Sacrifice and Redemption

I finished this painting last week. Certain elements of the painting are experimental, most specifically the use of canvas cutouts applied to the canvas. Inspired by Clive Hicks-Jenkins’ use of maquettes, I created figures and attached them to the canvas.

It was frankly a naive understanding of how to use Clive’s technique; I have since come to better understand the actual approach. I confess  I would not suggest my version, it was a bit cumbersome, difficult to remedy errors.

But in the end I rather like the finished painting, a little  macabre puppet theatre devoted to the Mayan Underworld.

Sacrifice and Redemption
2012
oil on canvas
40 by 30


  

  

In this admittedly theatric depiction we witness two acts. On the left the Maize God Hun Hunahpu is sacrificied by the treacherous Lords of Xibalba.  The Maize God’s head is placed upon the proscenium, in the Popol vuh  it is placed upon the upper branches the calabash tree.

On the right, the celestial ball payers, the Hero Twins Hunahpu and Xbalanque redeem their fathers honor. 

The following are details of the Sacrifice and the Redemption. In the sacrifice, the snakes pouring out of the torso are a reference to the Mesoamerican tradition of portraying spilt blood as snakes.That really is a very clever idea, I can imagine streams of blood seeming as frightful as venomous snakes.

detail of the Sacrifice of the Maize God


detail of the Redemption of the Maize God by the Hero Twins.

The following is a detail of the Lords of Xibalba.

For now that is it. I am finishing up another painting from the Popol vuh series, plus one devoted to Perseus and Andromedus, yes a male Andromeda. In what my friend Clive refers to as gay revisionism I am claiming this much loved theme for my gay self.

This painting, Sacrifice and Redemption caused one of my professors concern in that it might offend Chicano machismo sensibilities. She felt I should reconsider the nudity. I cannot, I see almost all of my characters in the buff, through a quasi Classical perspective. I was taken aback by her suggestion, particularly as she holds a Phd in Renaissance art history.  But there you go!

Take care, LG

I realized after making the post the head of the Maize God had become clipped, I confess I may very well be the worst photographer ever. I intend to remedy that by taking a class in the Autumn. Until that time, patience please.

Sacrifice and Redemption

Screaming Into The Wind

I have just finished this oil sketch (18 by 24) of Philoctetes, post snake bite, post festering wound and most pitifully, post abandonment by his brothers in arms. There a several variations on how the snake came to bite the master archer, but what seems consistent is the fact that the stench from the wound proved too great an ordeal for his comrades to endure. In a startling act of betrayal, they abandon our hero on the island of Lemnos. Alone with a painful wound, Philoctetes’ rage festers.

It is this moment I chose to paint, one of impotent anger and resentment. 

Philoctetes
oil on cardboard
18×24

I painted this image on cardboard, a material I really enjoy painting on. The lushness of oil color on pedestrian cardboard really satisfies some aesthetic instinct. I love how the oil glides upon the surface, canvas no matter how fine, snags my brush. I love panels, but they are costly , with cardboard I can screw up with very little anxiety. I’m eager to try copper panels, as was the tradition during the Renaissance , but I know nothing about  their preparation. Until that  time, cardboard is readily available.

I was keen to keep this painting a simple sketch, I did not labor over a drawing in order to prepare. I am trying to be more free ( more brave?) and just lightly pencil my idea and begin the sketch.  There are of course flaws, most particularly concerning anatomy, I do not have a model, save my own reflection. It is quite difficult to twist and turn and sketch away. I have tried snapping an image of myself, but all I come up with is some sort of sordid image in front of the mirror.

Hopeless really, I need a model, must work on that.

I love to put together extensive preparatory renderings but at time that becomes burdensome. I decided Philoctetes could survive the experiment, he has been through a great deal already, one more trial could hardly cause much harm.


In the Beginning

Starting a painting is tough for me, I thoroughly enjoy the sketching, and thinking, planning and drafting; but actual brush to virgin canvas can send me into a tizzy. This new painting is not an exception. I vacillated between medium, initially favoring watercolor, going so far as to buy expensive paper. But now I lean towards oil.

I’m blocking out the painting in acrylic because I can cover a lot of ground with fast drying mediums. All well and good, but acrylic gives me a headache, it is sluggish in my hands, fighting me most of the way. The images that follow are just the germ of what I want this painting to be, but I am determined to post even if it isn’t where I want it to be at the moment.

For someone of my controlling temperament a big step.

I look forward to moving onto oil, but I have a lot of work to do before that;  I probably will not bring out the linseed oil until next week.

First day of blocking in.

So there we are, looks a bit rough, quite rough. The Maize God needs to be blocked in , as do the infant Hero Twins. I haven’t even added the Underworld Princess. I need to sketch her out, will do that tonight.

But for now, with an aching back, I’m calling it quits.

Until tomorrow,

take care,

LG